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Director says 'Blade Runner 2049' is his 'biggest artistic challenge'

"Blade Runner 2049" director Denis Villeneuve explains how his work on "Arrival" helped him prepare for the daunting task of directing the sequel to Ridley Scott's classic film.

Harrison Ford returns as Deckard, but as a Replicant or human?
Warner Bros.

Fresh off the success of alien drama "Arrival," that film's director Denis Villeneuve is ready to tackle Replicants in the upcoming film "Blade Runner 2049."

In fact, directing "Arrival" helped Villeneuve prepare for his work on the sequel to the 1982 sci-fi classic film "Blade Runner."

"'Arrival' was by far my most effects-oriented movie," Villeneuve told Deadline on Monday. "It was so different it helped me to feel ready to go on the scope of "Blade Runner.'"

Specifically, he cited "pre-visualization" techniques that essentially let filmmakers watch a film unfold in pre-production. "You create in the computer the sequences according to storyboards, like a kind of animated short film.," he said. "You see the evolution, each shot, the camerawork, the background, everything kind of goes together as you are working."

But even though pre-visualization aided Villeneuve in understanding the complexity of directing a special-effects-saturated film, he still found the idea of taking on a well-known film from another director -- in this case Ridley Scott -- rather daunting.

"It's the first time that I had to take the universe of someone else and to make it my own," Villeneuve said. "It's very challenging, the biggest artistic challenge I've had in my life probably."

Harrison Ford will reprise his role as Rick Deckard, and joins actors Jared Leto, Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Ana de Armas and Dave Bautista.

"Blade Runner 2049" will hit theaters in October 2017.